Alcohol always felt like the finish line for me – like my life was a race but there was a place I’d get to stop running and take a breather just around the corner.
I haven’t been able to replace that finish line feeling yet. Getting home from work, getting the kids to bed, and finally sitting for a minute with a glass of whiskey (and then another, and then another, and then another… on a Tuesday) was one of the greatest pleasures in my life. I could physically feel the tension release in my body, and the various worries of my day wasted away. Now I have nothing.
I’m struggling to find that replacement. I’m blessed to have a wonderful family, and being with them is also a great pleasure, but it doesn’t have the same ability to make me forget about the stresses of my day the way alcohol did. Being with my family, playing with my children, introduces good feelings, but it does not replace or eliminate the bad ones; alcohol did.
I thought I was over the cravings for alcohol. I haven’t been going to group therapy because, frankly, I’ve told myself I don’t need it. I saw a psychiatrist this week who told me I would relapse if I didn’t go to group. I thought that was a pretty bold statement. Not I might relapse, or I was at increased risk to relapse. She said I would – definitely.
I thought she was full of it, but the next day I had a terrible day at work, and I won’t lie: all I wanted to do was get hammered. If there had been any alcohol in the house I absolutely would have. There was nobody to stop me, my wife was at work, and the kids were in bed. The cravings returned as strong as they had when I was in the thick of my alcoholism.
I needed my finish line; I needed my relief from the stress of the day. I realize now that my cravings haven’t gone away, it’s just that the stress in my life has diminished. Weeks 3 and 4 of sobriety I was on vacation, and during weeks 5 and 6 work has been quiet and my in-laws have been available to help with the children. This past week has presented me with my first real challenge in a while and my mind immediately went to getting hammered for relief.
It’s clear I need to find a replacement to deal with stress. I’m not too good for group therapy, and my psychiatrist is absolutely right – if I don’t figure this out, I will relapse.
One good thing to close out the week: I mentioned that alcohol was my way of killing the bad feelings and stress that accompanied my days; while it was extremely effective at this, it also was extremely effective at killing the good feelings that I should have been getting. Being with my family fills me with way more joy than it did before, and even simple things like writing this post give me a greater sense of accomplishment than it did when I was hammered.
So sobriety doesn’t suck as hard as it did when I started; but I still have a long ways to go.
On to week 8…
This is part 7 of a series. The previous post can be found here.
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